Twin Peaks, Why Can’t I Quit You?

Twin Peaks was created by Mark Frost and David Lynch.

Twin Peaks was created by Mark Frost and David Lynch.

We all have a thing that we secretly love. For some people (like myself) they’re a little embarrassed about how much they like pro wrestling, while others can’t stop watching “reality” based show like Honey Booboo. We all kind of hate that we love these shows but when we see it in the schedule guide, we all stop and watch them.

Another one of those titles for me is Twin Peaks. While the show is now regarded as one of the best shows on TV at the time, let’s face it; it was more than a little off putting.

The show featured (at times) bad acting, out of place slapstick and was just too…David Lynch like for normal TV audiences. The show gives me so many reasons to hate it but for some reason, it’s compelling. I keep being brought back into the small town no matter how hard I try.

Here are some random thoughts about the show, that came up during my last binge watching session.

Agent Dale Cooper is the greatest character of all time:

I want this jpg framed in my room...

I want this image framed in my room…

Whether it’s his love of coffee and pie, his strange lexicon or the over the top acting chops of Kyle MacLachlan, Agent Dale Cooper is a feast for the senses. Every time this character is on the screen he entrances me in a wave of happiness.

Cooper is called into the small town of Twin Peaks after a high school student, Laura Palmer, is murdered. Due to the lack of a proper homicide unit in the town the local police rely on Cooper to help them track down the murder. As the series progresses Cooper and the audience learn more about the town, the people who live here and the eventually find out who killed the young Palmer girl.

However, there’s a style to this character that makes him so interesting and for some reason it’s hard to explain why.

When we first see Cooper he’s given little character. He’s a G-man who spends as much time talking to the people of Twin Peaks as he does dictating to his tape recorder. Later we find out that he enjoys black coffee and pie and other bits and pieces of his backstory and for some reason this is enough character development to make me love the him.

Soon we get a feel for who Cooper is as he starts to dig deeper into the lives of the towns folk. He’s a good detective and focuses on his goal until he finds the evidence that he needs. He’s also fair and doesn’t focus too much on one particular suspect unless the evidence points him that way, even then he still tries to give them the benefit of the doubt (like with James Hurley for example).

He soon starts a series of friendships with the local police most notably with the Sheriff Harry Truman (played by Michael Ontkean who was previously known for co-staring in the greatest hockey film of all time, Slap Shot). When this two are investigating together their bond is so interesting that an essay series could be written about them.

While the characters are quite different from each other, they do bond over a couple of things including coffee and pie. Which brings me to my next point.

This series is basically food porn:

All the donuts lined up...

All the donuts lined up…

So I’ve mentioned coffee and pie a few times in this post already, that’s because the show seems to have a fascination with the café drink and desert. Twin Peaks has more than it’s fair share of food and drink scenes, so much so that there are a few YouTube videos of just the café and coffee scenes.

Even when the main focus of the plot isn’t on food there are still moments where they’re part of the foreground/background or even parts of the cross fade.

Most of the transition shots are food based and a great deal of the shows story development happens at the Double R Diner, which features people drinking coffee and/or eating pie.

I’m not sure if Mark Frost and David Lynch are just fans of pie and coffee or if it was there way of transitioning from serious moments into a not so serious plot but anytime someone is eating on Twin Peaks, I’m happy.

The messed up characters:

The Log knows what you do at night...

The Log knows what you do at night…

 

While the show does have a lot of solid characters (non better than Cooper) there are more than a few who are…strange.

Whether they be Lodge Inhabitants like BOB or the Man from the Other Place or everyone’s favourite Log Lady Twin Peaks is loved for it’s bizarre supporting cast of characters.

Let’s spend some time talking about the aforementioned Log Lady. Margaret Lanterman aka the Log Lady is a staple of the town even before the events of the plot.

The former Ballroom Dancing teacher has little backstory but she ends up being one of the more important supporting characters in the Town. What really makes this strange is the fact that she doesn’t really do anything.

While she is used to give Cooper clues at points, she’s there basically to either transition out of a scene or just to make the audience go, “Hey it’s the Log Lady!”

It’s because of character like this that the show is so loved. Why would a show have a character that carries something like a log around and not have it be important? The only real reason is because David Lynch is either insane or an insane genius.

You might not remember characters like Jerry Horne, the brother of Ben, the business man who owns the majority of Twin Peaks but a lady who crews gum and cradles a log is a staple of the show. That’s Twin Peak’s in a nutshell.

A mystery that they didn’t want solved:

A girl in a bag is still better than a girl in a fridge...

A girl in a bag is still better than a girl in a fridge

While a show based around a murder mystery generally has an ending, the creators of Twin Peaks seeming had no interest in solving Palmer’s murder.

With the mystery solved there would be little reason for Cooper and the other CIA agents to wonder around the wooded small town. However, their network wanted the murder to be solved or at least wrapped up by the second season.

While the murderer was found, most of the supernatural elements were still left in play (the biggest being the reason for said murder). In fact, the supernatural elements seemingly were becoming the largest part of the show even before Palmer’s killer was found. With the murder out of the way Cooper could focus more on the BOB and the other organized crime that affect the town.

Despite this once the case was “solved” the show started to faultier and didn’t really get its traction back. Additionally the shows audience stopped tuning in leading to the show’s cancellation.

This whole situation though must be one of the few times in TV history that a series had no interest in solving its mystery. While the second season as a whole started a lot of other storyline the majority of the show was based around Palmer.

Once that’s done, what’s the point of the show?

While the creators thought that the story could continue with the case behind them the truth is the audience were happy with it not being solved either. The show worked more like a soap opera rather than a murder mystery.

Now when people look back at the show they mention the ending of the case and feel it hurt the show a great deal, and why is that?

The only real reason must be, that people loved the characters and didn’t care why they were there. Maybe if Frost and Lynch didn’t have to switch up their plans for the series the show could have continued into something else.

Or maybe the show would have continued to fall on its face. Who knows? But what I do know is that this show is still in the minds of normal people and workers in the TV and Film industry.

A number of shows have said that Twin Peaks was a huge inspiration for their tone and plot, the best example being the Killing.

The Killing is basically Twin Peaks:

The first two seasons at least...

For the first two seasons at least…

I started watching The Killing, the AMC adaption a Danish series, shortly after the show landed on Netflix. I didn’t notice the similarities  until a friend said it out loud.

The two shows takes place in the same state, feature the death of young girls of a similar age both of which lead double lives, both victims have family ties to organized crime and both are killed by family members. Add on top of that, that both shows were canceled and continued afterwards and the shows are very similar. However, the main difference between the shows is tone.

Where Twin Peaks moved more towards the goofy slapstick, the Killing was deadly serious. But the seriousness doesn’t help it stick out in people’s minds. We love Twin Peaks for it’s dumb comedy and long awkward coffee and pie scenes.

Twin Peaks gives fans all the reasons in the world to hate it, but there’s something charming about it. We see some interesting characters and we get to know most of them.

However, the show wasn’t understood by it’s network and ultimately it was killed after bad ratings.

Despite this the show is still love by many. We love you Twin Peaks. Don’t you even change.

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